Erykah Badu Just Changed the “Ugly” Footwear Game Forever

Erykah Badu in ugly shoes.
Photo by Jacopo Raule/GC Images

“[A] rule about cool shoes is that they must be a little ugly,” read a viral Twitter missive from director Sayna Fardaraghi earlier this week. Erykah Badu seems to know a thing or two about that. The neo soul legend has been seemingly everywhere this Paris Fashion Week. Her signature style is already hard to miss, but Badu has upped the game by accessorizing several of her looks with an object that makes her feet look like slithering tentacles. She wore a red version of the accessory to sit front row at Rick Owens’s show in Paris, and for the after party celebrating Riccardo Tisci’s final Burberry show in London earlier in the week. Then she was spotted in a gray pair out in the streets of Paris.

We’ll admit to being a little confused at first. We hadn’t remembered any sort of tentacle boots from recent collections. A quick dive into shows from the fashion houses most likely to be daring enough to attempt to sell the look (read: Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe, Thom Browne, Rick Owens, and Comme des Garçons) turned up nothing. Eventually, we wound up on Badu’s Instagram and found our answer: they were made custom for Badu.

Photo by Ricky Vigil M/GC Images

Of course they were.

While many VIPs often show up to fashion week in head-to-toe looks provided for them (and, frankly, who can blame them for it?), Badu can be counted on to inject the most personal of style into any look. Technically, the garments themselves aren’t shoes. Rather, they’re dubbed “sea anemone” leg warmers and were created with the help of fashion student Myah Hasbany.

Hasbany, still under the age of 21, is currently studying fashion at the famed Central Saint Martins in London, but has had the attention of Badu since she was a teen in Texas. According to The Dallas Observer, Hasbany’s flair for glob-like knitwear caught Badu’s eye while she was studying at Dallas’s Booker T. Washington High School, where Badu herself once attended (she remains a steadfast supporter of the performing and visual arts public school). Badu has worn more elaborate, full-body pieces by Hasbany before, but the leg warmers do seem like a more practical choice to pack for international travel.

Badu previously wore a blue ombré pair while performing in Switzerland over the summer, and seems to be making them a part of her uniform this week. It’s a reminder that the best style is intensely personal—and more often than not, incorporates a few things less imaginative people might consider ugly.